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Tips to Improve Sales Team Performance

Clozd Team

Clozd has interviewed thousands of decision-makers while running win-loss analysis programs for many leading companies. We identified three common reasons sales teams influence winning and losing deals through the data gathered in these programs. The top three reasons were:

  1. Sales Empathy and Communication
  2. Sales Process and Follow Up
  3. Demo Quality: Sales Knowledge or Expertise


During Win Loss Week, four sales and operations experts got together to discuss these reasons and to figure out the best ways to correct problems that might arise within these themes. Jared Robin, CEO of Revgenius, Asia Corbett, Head of Revenue Operations and Programs at Revgenius, Dale Zwizinski, VP of Sales at Beezy, and Jordan Henderson, Head of Revenue Operations at RingDNA, talked about the best ways to diagnose and improve these sales team trouble areas.


Sales Empathy

Jared asked the panel, “How do you make sure your sales team truly understands the problem their solution solves?” The four all agreed but had different takes. Asia said, to her, it comes down to enablement and training. She said that company onboarding/training should have a strong enablement program with materials that allow sales to easily ingest all the knowledge provided. When reps have all the materials they need, it allows them to better focus on the customer.


Dale said, many times sales teams are missing on objection handling. You’ll learn your own product easily, so it’s critical to focus on buyer objections in enablement, and that will allow the sales team to really understand why buyers are in the spot they’re in. He pointed out that sellers are selling every day, but buyers are buying only once every few years or so. Taking the time to understand their hesitations is one of the best ways to show buyer empathy.


Jordan said the reason that it’s important to understand what problem your product solves is that it will help you be an empathetic seller. One tip he gave was to use your own product to show them how to solve their problem whenever possible. The second thing he mentioned is to record every conversation which will better allow you to go back, listen, and really understand where your buyer is coming from.


Lastly, Jared’s advice was simple: speak to your customers regularly. You need to find out how your product is solving customers’ problems today. Your prospects may be having problems now that others didn’t have a year ago. He recommends talking to your clients that closed in the last 45 days to give you the most recent guidance on the most recent problems. Jordan added that your customers might be using your product to solve a problem that you didn’t even know existed. Hearing directly from your customers is a great way to ensure you’re getting honest feedback that can help impact sales empathy.


Sales Communication

Jared followed up with this question: what methods are best to make sure your sales team is communicating to the buyer that they understand and know how to solve their problems?


Jordan, right off the bat, said reflective listening is key. It’s important to actually understand the problem, and reflective listening is the most powerful way to ensure the sales team is really at the point of true understanding. It helps reps to mirror the language the buyer needs to hear to help them gain your trust.


Another important tip: ask better questions. Oftentimes, salespeople think they know what the buyers' problems are because they are selling every day. And that is partially true—salespeople typically do have a good understanding of their product and how it can help buyers, but they may not always be 100% accurate. Sales reps need to ask better questions and not be afraid of the answers. Dale said salespeople sometimes avoid asking qualifying questions in fear of the answers weeding them out. But if you are able to ask the right questions, you can create more credibility with the prospect and actually help them through the process.


The last thing they noted was to listen and actually answer their questions. Jared gave an example of a need not being met. “If I have 2,000 packages that need to go out every day at 3:00 pm, but the salesperson keeps telling me that their service is better because they can get it out at 2:00 pm, how does that help me? That’s great that you can do it at 2:00 pm, but I need it at 3:00 pm. You’re not listening to my needs.” Dig into the “why” the buyer is looking at your product. That shows that you’re listening.



“If I’ve ever said to you, ‘you’re not answering my question,’ you’re in a really bad space!” - Jordan Henderson



Does Technology Get in the Way of Salespeople Truly Enabling Empathy?

Automation done right is an amazing tool that can help salespeople not get lost in the minutia of their tech stack and focus on building buyer empathy. But automation done wrong can be a terrible thing. There’s the risk that an over-programmed system can enable reps to become too reliant on the tech and makes them robotic. Technology can be a great guide but will never replace the human-to-human sales enablement piece.


Another caution is that too much technology can confuse the sales team on where to go to actually get their job done. As you’re onboarding, keep simplicity in mind. You don’t only need to have empathy for your buyer, but for your sales team, too. Don’t layer too much tech. Give them what they need and teach them how to use it to help them succeed.



Lastly, figure out what the process behind the tech is. Really think about your sales process and what you’re trying to support there, then build the tech stack on top of it. With this, you can enable reps to succeed—not impede their ability to build empathy by bogging them down in tech processes. 



Sales Process and Follow Up

Jared asks the group what strategies they use to ensure their sales team follows up properly. Asia said one key thing is to take the administrative load off the reps as much as possible. If a lead comes in, automatically assign it, create a sequence for them, and actually enable them to follow up properly and quickly.


One tip Dale mentioned was to send a recap email after every call. He said this is one of the simplest, most effective ways to ensure a proper, thorough follow-up. Salespeople take dozens of calls, and this is a way to make sure that they don’t lose focus on the client—and shows the client that they are listening to their needs and interested in helping them. 


Another way to help the sales follow-up process is to have revenue operations meet up with each rep and analyze their day-to-day. From that, they can make individual dashboards which makes everything a rep needs (and actually uses) readily accessible. Jordan says the easier you can make their day-to-day, the more the reps can worry about selling.


Is there a perfect sales process & what does it look like?

Unfortunately, there isn’t a perfect sales process that we can all copy and paste because it’s really about the buying process. The perfect sales process maps to the customer buying journey. The customer couldn’t care less what your quota is—they only care what their buying process is.



“Operations folks are very process-driven and process-oriented. However, it is true that you should start with the buyer journey and put the processes on top of that. The whole go-to-market process for marketing all the way through [customer success] and sales is just a piece of that, but it should very much align with the buyer’s journey.” - Asia Corbett


Demo Quality

Training, making access to training really easy, and building it into their onboarding is a key component of helping sales reps give great demos.


“I’ve never seen a demo win a deal. I’ve seen demos lose deals all the time.” - Dale Zwizinski


One piece of advice was to focus on customer objections. Listen to calls and see what the questions that customers are asking are and get those down. The more demos you can listen in on and watch, the more in tune you will be with the questions you need to be prepared for. Be cautious with demoing a “feature dump”. If you can focus in on the customer and be prepared with answers to the most common questions, you can change the focus from us (the product), to them (the buyer). 



The panel all agreed that your reps should become an expert in the product, but more importantly, they need to become an expert in the space. If you’re an expert in your space, you have a leg up on what your buyer needs, rather than just spewing product features that may or may not be relevant to them.


One thing that can help keep your sales team out of trouble in these areas is a robust win-loss analysis program. Win-loss analysis allows you to get buyer feedback that can help your sales teams really gain a better understanding of the buyer’s processes. It enables them to build empathy for the prospects they’re working with, making the process that much more personable and, in turn, successful. The feedback that can be collected from win-loss analysis can also identify coaching opportunities or validate areas of success. For more information on how a win-loss analysis program can help level up your sales teams, go to https://www.clozd.com/blog/a-surefire-way-to-increase-sales-win-rates.


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